Three Questions and a Cover — a short interview with one of my favorite authors, along with one of the author’s covers.
Many thanks to April Henry, the awe-inspiring New York Times bestseller, for playing 3QC. And yes–she’s offering a free print copy of her new book, Eyes of the Forest.
Do you start with plot or characters?
For me, it’s always plot. Eyes of the Forest started with me joking about how I needed to be chained to my desk to force me to finish my book. And then I realized I needed to give that problem to a character. The result is like a mash up of Game of Thrones and Misery.
Can you give us a sneak peek at your next project?
Two Truths and a Lie is coming out May 24. A blizzard traps two groups of teens at a rundown old motel on a deserted highway.
The book got its start when a blizzard engulfed a literacy festival I was at in Nebraska. Suddenly all the out-of-state guests were looking at being trapped three days at a rundown hotel that only served continental breakfast. A wonderful teacher (the book is dedicated to her) saw my sad tweet about our predicament and offered to drive any stranded authors to the nearest airport in her four-wheel-drive SUV. We ended up driving to an even bigger city in near white-out conditions on a deserted highway, and finally managed to fly out late the next day.
But even before we left the hotel, I knew that fate had handed me the perfect set up for a thriller.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write all my books on a treadmill desk, which is just like it sounds, a desk with a treadmill underneath. It’s specially geared so the engine doesn’t burn out, even at slow speeds.
I used to write in a coffee shop, but then of course I bought lattes and these cute little cookies they offered that were just two for a dollar. After I sold rights to a book in Germany, I bought a LifeSpan treadmill desk. It is hands-down the best purchase I have ever made. In a few months after I got it, I lost 22 pounds without even trying. The only downside is that it’s not portable. Pre-pandemic, when I was in a hotel room and wanted to write, I would set my laptop on top of the ironing board and march in place.
My treadmill desk even inspired a plot element in my latest book, Eyes of the Forest. In it, fantasy writer RM Haldon wakes up in a deserted cabin, shackled to a treadmill desk. On the desk is a typewriter and a note, “Finish writing Eyes of the Forest or else!” That’s his much-delayed book, the final in his epic Swords and Shadows series. Haldon has been kidnapped by Derrick, his biggest fan.
I actually bought a set of leg shackles and chained myself to the desk to see what it would be like. Authenticity and research are key to making a book interesting.
How should new writers invest their time and money in order to be successful?
The best thing a new writer could do is to spend their time reading and writing. Read books critically. If you don’t like a book, be able to articulate why you don’t like it before you put it down (and then don’t do that in your own writing). If you love a book, try to figure out the secret behind the magic, which is actually a lot harder.
Read craft books. Some advice will resonate with you. Some won’t. I got all my writing advice books from the library and bought them only if I loved them. There are many ways to write, so you need to find the one that works for you for each particular book. One of my favorite craft books is Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.
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I would be very careful about investing money, unless it was for a basic computer. Just like there are a lot of folks who want to lose weight and shady people trying to take advantage of them, there are a lot of folks who want be published. An agent should never charge you anything up front, and they won’t get paid until you do. Most publishers work only with agented writers. If a publisher says they would love to publish you as soon as you purchase one of their publishing packages, run the other way. (Of course, if you self-publish, you will pay for an editor and a good cover designer and maybe someone to help you with the formatting.)
But if you ever feel hinky about spending money, think two or even three times. At a minimum, go through three pages of Google results for the person offering the service. Even better, talk to their clients.
I got over 100 rejections from agents before one said yes, and it was my fourth novel that finally became my first published novel. But if I had given up, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
After a bestselling fantasy writer disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger. Instead of re-reading his books, she must venture into the real world to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery by New York Times-bestselling author April Henry. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.
Bridget is RM Haldon’s biggest fan. She and her mom sought refuge in Haldron’s epic fantasy series Swords and Shadows while her mom was losing her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at one of his rare book signings, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he’d created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write the final book in his blockbuster sword and sorcery series. But Haldon has gone missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s cryptic clues and save him before it’s too late?
Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with an exploration of fan culture.
About the Author
April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award; The Night She Disappeared; and Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, Books One and Two in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.a Rafflecopter giveaway